Australia: Shares climb on energy boost, unemployment rate in focus

AUSTRALIAN shares edged higher on Thursday, lifted by energy stocks on strong commodity prices, while investors awaited the country's jobless rate.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.33 per cent by 0021 GMT, after posting its biggest drop since mid-June on Wednesday.

Investors pressed pause after a sharp sell-off in the previous session following red-hot US inflation data and the focus back home is now at its unemployment rate which is due to be released later in the day.

A Reuters poll expects the unemployment rate to remain at 3.4 per cent in August after it fell to it in July.

The jobless rate had dropped to 3.4 per cent in July, its lowest since August 1974.

Local energy stocks led the gains, climbing 2.5 per cent on strong oil prices. Sector majors Woodside Energy and Santos rose 3 per cent and 1.7 per cent, respectively. 

Miners rose 0.3 per cent, with BHP up 0.3 per cent, while Rio Tinto fell 0.2 per cent.

Gold stocks jumped 0.6 per cent, with country's largest gold mining Newcrest Mining adding 0.3 per cent.

Technology stocks advanced 0.4 per cent, tracking subdued gains of its Wall Street peers, with software firm Brainchip climbing nearly 2 per cent and leading the gains on the sub-index, while ASX-listed shares of Block Inc dropped 6.8 per cent.

Financials added 0.7 per cent, with the "Big Four" banks gaining 0.8 per cent to 1.5 per cent.

New Zealand Oil and Gas rose 1.2 per cent after it signed a one-year deal with Shell's Australian unit to deliver 0.64 petajoules of gas into the Australian east coast domestic market.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.1 per cent, as the country's economy rebounded sharply last quarter after its gross domestic product rose 1.7 per cent in June quarter. REUTERS


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